STEPS 5 INGREDIENTS 9 (or you choose) TIME 60 MINS Making this vegetable pasta salad is probably the easiest hour you’ll spend making a pasta meal. You simply chop the veg, stick it in the oven, then boil the pasta and mix it all together.
This mega-colourful creation – an Italian version of a recipe by a wonderful Greek Cypriot lady called Ritsa – combines ultra-nutritious oven-roasted vegetables with your favourite small pasta, so it’s packed full of vitamins but low on calories.
It’s also flexible because you can include whatever veg you like in there. (And if you need a hearty winter meal just make this vegetable pasta salad and eat it warm instead of cold!).
For all these reasons, to my mind this is probably the best pasta salad around. Let’s make it…
Ingredients: (For a printable PDF shopping list click here, or right-click this link and choose ‘Save target/link as’ to save the list for later.)
400g/14oz small pasta (e.g. penne, fusilli or farfalle ‘bow tie’ pasta)
2 small red onions
1 medium sized eggplant/aubergine
4 small (or 2 large) zucchini/courgettes
3 fresh medium tomatoes
1 medium pepper/capsicum
Dried oregano or thyme (your choice)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Pancetta (Italian belly bacon chunks), or 3-4 chopped slices of thick bacon
50g/1.75oz feta cheese
Medium sized oven dish (mine is 9-10-inches or 23-25cm diameter)
Large pasta pan
Preparation: 10 mins
Cooking time: 45-50 mins
STEP 1 – Turn on your oven to 180C/360-degrees, now wash and chop the veg. The best average size for the veg chunks we’ll use is about three quarters of an inch (or 1.5cm). So…
• Peel onions and cut each into six equal chunks
• Cut eggplant long ways into even 3/4–inch wide strips. Flip these over and half their height, then chop into chunks sideways
• Remove the courgette/zucchini ends and cut vertically in half (as with the eggplant). Then chop into thin slices (less than a centimetre thick)
• Cut each tomato into six equal chunks and cut away any hard green parts from the ends
• Cut the pepper vertically in half. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut out the green sections and any white middle. And use a teaspoon to scrape out any remaining seeds
• If using them, chop your bacon rashers into strips or squares.
STEP 2 – Throw all these in your baking dish and cover in a generous glug of olive oil.
Add a pinch of pepper, 2 teaspoons of salt, and half a handful of herbs (oregano or thyme).Mix everything thoroughly.
Add a second glug of oil. Our aim here is for all the veg to be coated in oil before they go into the oven.
STEP 3 – Slide the oven dish into the oven, set a timer for 45 mins, and then after just 20 minutes take it out and give it a good but gentle stir.
STEP 4 – Ten minutes before this 45 mins is up, boil a kettle or two to get a big pan of water boiling away on the hob (including two good handfuls of salt), and cook your pasta as its packet tells you.
When it’s done, drain it.
STEP 5 – Check whether the veg are done. Take out the dish and poke a zucchini/courgette slice with a fork. If it slides through easily, it’s good. If not, set the timer for another 5-10 mins and drizzle a little oil on the drained pasta (this stops it turning to mush).
When the veg is ready, mix it all together gently in a big dish. If including feta cheese, crumble it in now.
Done! Now just leave it to cool until your eaters arrive…
To serve: Combine this vegetable pasta salad with some cool white wine.
You don’t really need sauces or anything as you should find the vegetables’ assorted tastes and flavours are easily enough action for your taste buds to handle. And the pasta will fill you up more than the veg alone would… a nice mix.
Extra tip: You can also use this vegetable pasta salad as a starter, or one of several buffet dishes: just reduce the amount of pasta you use for each guest – from 100g/3.5oz down to 50g/1.75oz for a starter or 30g/1oz for one of several courses.